Help! My Wife Is Lashing Out At Me Over Our Fertility Issues

A reader gets real about how infertility is impacting his relationship.
Olga Rolenko via Getty Images

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Trying for a baby can be a real rollercoaster. And while some couples seem to have no issue starting a family, others may face struggle after struggle to conceive.

There is so much frustration and pain that comes with infertility issues. Not only does it affect the person dealing with the infertility, but it impacts their partner and the relationship, too.

Kevin wants to be there for his other half who is experiencing fertility issues, but says he’s being pushed away. “I love my wife, but she is lashing out at me because of our infertility issues,” he says.

“It’s got to the point where it’s become emotionally abusive. I don’t feel like I’m the issue here. Am I crazy to feel offended or is there something deeper going on beneath the surface? And how do I help her?” Kevin asks.
He clearly loves his wife, but can’t seem to understand why her anger is being redirected to him. So what should he do?
“It’s completely understandable that the reader feels hurt and offended as a result of their spouse lashing out,” says Jessica Alderson, who is a relationship expert and founder of So Synced.
Not only is Kevin dealing with the emotional burden of infertility struggles, but he is also bearing the weight of emotional abuse as well.
“The behaviour of the reader’s wife indicates she is disrespecting his feelings and boundaries. Feeling respected and valued by your partner is essential for a strong, healthy connection,” Alderson says.

What would you say to the reader?

Often when it comes to infertility issues, women can end up internalising feelings of blame and guilt. Kevin’s wife might be placing the blame on herself and feeling guilty for not being able to conceive, suggests the expert.

“This self-blame could lead to heightened emotions that she is projecting into her husband,” Alderson explains.

“Nonetheless, while the reader’s wife might not be intentionally trying to hurt him, it’s important that he takes the necessary steps to protect himself from emotional abuse,” she says.

While empathy is an admirable trait, it’s essential that the reader protects his own wellbeing, Alderson adds.

She says that “love and empathy are two key ingredients that can help the couple resolve these issues, as long as they come from both parties”.

How do infertility issues affect a relationship?

Infertility issues can bring out a range of complex emotions, such as grief, sadness, anger, guilt, shame and frustration.

“The desire to have a child can be so deeply ingrained in people that the inability to conceive naturally can lead to a profound sense of loss and disappointment. It can impact their self-esteem, identity and sense of purpose,” Alderson explains.

On top of that, when you get to a certain age, there’s often a strong societal expectation and pressure to have children. “Infertility can make individuals feel inadequate or like they are failing to meet these expectations,” Alderson says.

It can also affect friendships as those who struggle with infertility can feel isolated if those close to them are experiencing the joys of parenthood while they themselves are struggling to conceive.

Infertility journeys are usually rooted in uncertainty. “The hope for success can be intertwined with disappointments, failed treatments, and pregnancy losses. This emotional rollercoaster can amplify the strain and make it difficult for the couple to plan for the future,” Alderson adds.

Then there’s the financial, medical and logistical stress that can add to the complexity of the situation too.

What practical advice would you give this reader?

“While it’s normal for infertility issues to put a strain on relationships, it’s never acceptable for someone to lash out in a way that is emotionally abusive,” Alderson says.

It’s normal for someone in this situation to experience increased levels of irritability, tension and frustration due to infertility-related issues, but it’s not okay for them to attack or belittle their partner.

“Kevin should take a step back and accept that they can put a significant amount of stress and strain on any relationship. Both partners should take time to process their hurt and disappointment,” Alderson says.

She suggests that Kevin should aim to create a safe and non-judgmental space for both of them to express their feelings and concerns.

“He should clearly communicate how his wife’s behaviour is affecting him and he should encourage her to express her feelings. It should be a two-way dialogue. Not only will this make both parties feel heard and respected, but it can also help to identify any underlying issues that need to be addressed,” she says.

Additionally, Alderson thinks the pair should seek infertility support groups in their area or online. “Connecting with others who are going through similar challenges can provide a sense of validation, support, and understanding. It can also be comforting to talk through the situation with friends and family,” says Alderson.

Lastly, Kevin should focus on self-care to help manage the emotional strain of the infertility issues. He should try to engage in activities that bring him joy, encourage relaxation, or promote emotional wellbeing, she suggests.

“Taking time for hobbies, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and ensuring he has the headspace to reflect can all be beneficial” Alderson adds.

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Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK